Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kentucky county to join others' lawsuit against makers of OxyContin

Citing an increase in overdose deaths from OxyContin last year, officials in Pike County, Ky., are planning to join other Kentucky counties in suing the company that makes the drug, reports the Appalachian News-Express of Pikeville. Officials had considered a suit since June, and this week the county hired a local law firm to represent it, Loretta Tackett reports. In July, in federal court in Virginia, Purdue Pharma L.P. of Stamford, Conn., accepted a $600 million fine and three of its managers agreed to pay $34.5 million for misleading the public about the painkiller’s addictive qualities.

Pike County is at Kentucky's eastern tip and is the state's largest county in land area. Its coroner found that oxycodone, the generic name for OxyContin, was involved in 13 of the county's 46 drug-related deaths in 2006. In 2005, that number had been seven of 57 cases, but both may be low; officials said many deaths are not handled by the coroner. In autopsies of 484 overdose victims in Kentucky last year, state medical examiners found oxycodone in 78. Pike County likely would join other Kentucky counties in the suit, which Attorney General Greg Stumbo is expected to file Oct. 4 in Pike Circuit Court. (Read more)

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